NYE youth come through for literacy in a big way
Written by Connie N. Larkman
August 13, 2012

The youth of the UCC understand and appreciate the value that books bring to people's lives.  Through the Literacy Labyrinth at the National Youth Event held at Purdue University in July, more than 4,000 books have been donated to agencies supporting literacy in the Lafayette, Indiana area.

The Literacy Labyrinth campaign goal of collecting 3,000 books was exceeded by 1,762, with 4,762 books ending up in the hands of people in the Lafayette community.  Most of the books have been distributed through the Literacy Coalition (A United Way partner in Lafayette), with 1,000 books donated to Acts of Love, a national non-profit organization.  Acts of Love books are donated to schools, after-school programs, libraries and private homes to encourage and introduce an interest in reading.

That's "pretty awesome!" according to Amy Wood, volunteer associate for the United Way of Greater Lafayette. It's interesting to note that the United Way organization categorized the 3,762 books it took in for distribution and reported that the majority of them were geared to young readers.  The NYE donations included counted 1,139 books for preschoolers, 1,841 geared to elementary readers, and 782 books for older/adult readers.

Waltrina Middleton, minister for youth advocacy and leadership formation on the UCC Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team hailed the commitment the young people brought to the literacy project, "taking on this faith, service and justice outreach with all of their heart.  It is not cheap to check luggage these days and yet, our youth groups generously packed their suitcases and brought literally thousands of books with them to NYE to raise awareness and make a difference in the lives of young people they may never meet or know. That is powerful," said Middleton, as she issued a challenge for the wider church.

"Our youth groups have set a high mark for community collaboration. We charge everyone to keep the spirit of NYE alive. The literacy labyrinth is something everyone could do in their local communities. Groups can keep the energy of NYE going by hosting their own labyrinth with a focus on an issue that is relevant to their community needs," Middleton stressed. "We also hope to see how youth groups are keeping the momentum of NYE alive and thriving in their local settings".

To share those 'Keep NYE Alive' stories, please send videos, photos or newsletters to youth@ucc.org.


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